Sunday, September 30, 2012

Top 5 Children's Birthday Party Tips

Most parents celebrate their children's birthdays with a party. From small family parties to elaborate celebrations, birthday parties can be lots of fun for everyone. They can be just as much fun to plan. Here are some tips for making your child's next birthday party the best one so far.

Let the Child Call Some of the Shots

Of course, kids love eating cake and opening presents, but many of them enjoy planning the event too. Unless you're planning a surprise party, you can ask your child to help select the theme, the party decorations, the invitations, the cake and the activities. It'll make the party a truly special event.

Keep the Guest List Manageable

If you're holding the party in your home, it's a good idea NOT to invite your child's entire 2nd grade class. Other venues can handle such a crowd, but for a home party you might want to stick to inviting family and/or some of the child's closest friends from school.

Plan Activities

It's a fact of life that kids get bored easily. Plan activities for the kids to keep them occupied, and remember to set a pick-up time for parents if kids are being dropped off for the birthday party. We're a big fan of games, and you can find a ton of helpful game ideas at

Have a Back-Up Plan

If you're planning an outdoor party, it's especially important to have a Plan B for the day's events. Activity books and indoor games will be a must. You might also want to plan a few more activities that you think you'll get to. It's better to have planned activities you don't get to than to discover your games all ended more quickly than you anticipated and you're struggling to fill the leftover time.

Are you a kids' party planning wizard? What tips and trips do you recommend?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Party Planning Secrets

Pulling off a stress-free party usually means planning ahead and staying organized. But how, exactly, does a hostess manage all of that? With these party planning secrets, of course!

Use Lists

Photo Courtesy of Pinwhirls Customer Kathleen L.
Lists aren't just for shopping. Use multiple lists to manage your party through every step of the planning phase, and manage that with a master list. It might sound like overkill, but the bigger the party the more likely you are to forget something. Here are the kinds of lists you'll need:
  • Master list for party planning chores and to-dos
  • Shopping list for all of your party decor and supplies
  • Invitation list
  • RSVP list
  • Gift & thank you list (used at birthday parties and bridal, wedding, or baby showers)
Offer DIY Drinks & Buffets

Skipping the bartender means guests can get those cocktails and soft drinks just the way they like them. Of course, it also means that guests can get those cocktails just the way they like them!  Plus buffets simplify meal service and make it easier for guests with dietary restrictions to create the perfect party menu for one.

Create a Kid-Friendly Space

If your event is family friendly, one of the best things you can do to keep the adults sane is offer a fun activity space for the kids. Simple crafts, coloring books, and other age-friendly games can entertain the kiddos and encourage them to socialize at the party.

Give Yourself Time

Save a little time an hour or two before the party to collect yourself and take a few deep breaths. If you're worked up into a frenzy as guests are arriving, it'll show -- and chances are you won't enjoy the event as much.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Origins of Four More Wedding Traditions

In an earlier post, we covered some of the origins of popular wedding traditions including why brides wear white wedding gowns, why brides look for something "old, new, borrowed, and blue" and the history of the wedding bouquet.

Photo courtesy of Kristen W.
But there are many more wedding traditions and plenty of interesting stories to explain them. So we're going to cover a few more of the most popular traditions in the United States.

Tossing the Garter and Bouquet

According to a Mental Floss article, the origins of this story are pretty creepy and involve wedding guests helping the bride and groom make things "official" by tearing and pawing at the bride's dress. In time, the bouquet and garter were tossed as distractions to help the bride escape the crowd unnoticed.

Giving Away the Bride

That same Mental Floss article explains why fathers give away brides. You might not like it, but the story behind this wedding tradition is that "fathers once used their daughters as currency to a) pay off a debt to a wealthier land owner, b) symbolize a sacrificial, monetary peace offering to an opposing tribe or c) buy their way into a higher social strata."

The Wedding Cake tells us that wedding cake has a long history. In ancient Rome the grooms smashed barley cake over the bride’s head. (We're not sure if that's better or worse than cake in the face!) Also, in medieval England unmarried wedding guests might take home a slice of cake to "tuck under their pillow."

Saving the wedding cake, according to CNN Living, was less about commemorating the one-year wedding anniversary and more about frugality. According to the article, "It used to be assumed that when there was a wedding, a christening would follow shortly. So, rather than bake two cakes for the occasions, they'd just bake one big one and save a part of it to be eaten at a later date when the squealing bundle of joy arrived."

What is your favorite wedding tradition? Do you know how it got started?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Planning a Family Reunion

We don't always think of family reunions as parties, but that's exactly what they can be if you plan them right. Here are a few tips to make your next reunion more festive and less stressful.

Pick a Theme
Instead of the same old family reunion year after year, give the event a theme. Luaus, costume parties, and pool parties are lots of fun. If your reunion is an annual event, make it a challenge to see how long you can go without repeating a theme.

Assign Committees
You can split up responsibilities by age groups or by families to make sure everyone has something fun to do. For example, you could put grandchildren in charge of picking out games and activities, aunts can be in charge of menu planning, uncles can be in charge of setup and grandparents can choose the venue and organize booking the shelter house, pool, cabin, or hall.

Send Reminders
Send out traditional invitations or e-vites so people can put the reunion on their calendars. If your family is spread out over several states, planning ahead is essential. Include all the important information including where and when the reunion will be held. If you're divvying up jobs, put a reminder on the cards so people know which aspects of planning they are responsible for.

Remember the Photos
Don't forget the cameras! You might want to plan ahead to have a professional photographer take a large group photo as well as take family and individual portraits. When you do this, sitting fees can be divided up among all the families. If having a professional photographer isn't feasible, be sure you pack your own digital camera.

What tips do you have for planning a fun family reunion?